Photo/IllutrationA grand piano damaged by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami produces irregular sounds at Ryuichi Sakamoto and Shiro Takatani's exhibition. (Photo taken by Ryuichi Maruo, provided by the ICC)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Ryuichi Sakamoto is out of control. And that's just the way he likes it.

The singular musical wizard is exploring ways of expression not found in "controlled music" in a musical installation in collaboration with artist Shiro Takatani, part of the Dumb Type collective.

Behind a blackout curtain is a dark space lined with 14 loudspeakers playing songs from Sakamoto’s 2017 album “async.”

Sakamoto tossed several different rhythms into a single composition and incorporated sounds made by rain and withered leaves for the album, his first in eight years.

At “Installation Music 2: Is Your Time,” the sounds are so intensely stereophonic that spectators will feel like they are swamped by the music.

Sakamoto's latest adventure in his never-ending quest for music of uncertainty is now on at the NTT InterCommunication Center (ICC) art gallery in Tokyo’s Hatsudai district.

Set up near the loudspeakers are 10 LED displays, which are synchronized to flicker with the sounds.

“I wanted people to experience the sounds that I created for the album in a space with a surround setup,” Sakamoto said.

But in addition to the album’s songs, there are other sounds that can be heard in the space.

Sometimes there is a live performance with musicians playing the viola, clarinet and other instruments as well as reciting poems. The musicians have musical scores to follow, but they are at liberty to prolong any sounds for as long as they want and add other improvisations.

Sakamoto featured a grand piano damaged by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in the latest album, saying that it was “retuned by nature.” The piano is also set up for the installation, programmed to play music in conjunction with earthquake data being shown from around the world.

It is not always the case for spectators to experience the same sounds. As for why he chose to incorporate uncertainty, Sakamoto said that music stored in CDs or downloaded through the Internet is unchangeable because it has been burned to a format, while he “wanted to create music that wouldn’t be the same even if it is performed every day.”

“Sakamoto has been thinking more deeply about music after the earthquake and tsunami disaster, delving into his doubts about a stereo system where you listen to music only with a pair of speakers and how to reflect natural phenomena that cannot be controlled by humans in music, and those ideas are summarized,” ICC chief curator Minoru Hatanaka pointed out.

The installation runs until March 11. The venue is closed on Mondays. For more information, visit the official website at (